Gulf Arab rulers back fellow monarchy Morocco in its row with the United Nations over the disputed region of Western Sahara, Saudi Arabia’s SPA news agency reported, one of the worst diplomatic crises over the territory since a 1991 ceasefire.
Morocco expelled dozens of U.N. staff from the mission in Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month referred to the North African nation’s 1975 annexation of the region from Spain as an “occupation.”
Rabat said its decision was irreversible, but that it was committed to military cooperation with the U.N. to guarantee the ceasefire. Ban has recommended extending MINURSO’s mandate for a year, warning that the conflict there was in danger of reigniting.
The Polisario Front reaffirmed Wednesday in New York its willing to engaging in negotiations with Morocco on the status of Western Sahara and expressed its concern over repetitive blockings from Morocco to undermine the UN political process.
In a statement released Wednesday in New York, the Sahrawi coordinator with the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Minurso) M’hamed Khaddad stressed that the Polisario Front “is ready to engage in negotiations with Morocco as soon as possible and without preconditions, in accordance with the UN Secretary General’s statement on 4 November 2015 et resolutions of the Security Council.”
“The Polisario Front expressed deep concern” over Morocco’s repetitive attempts to hinder the UN political process on Western Sahara,” he said.